Our Charter

MARYLAND ALLIANCE FOR JUSTICE REFORM (MAJR)

GROUP CHARTER

MAJR is a bipartisan, statewide alliance seeking legislative changes in Maryland’s correctional policies to support alternatives to incarceration, address inequities, and aid citizens returning from prison to lead productive lives, thus, strengthening families and communities.

MISSION

  • To advocate for legislative reforms of Maryland’s criminal justice system that emphasize rehabilitation and restorative justice over mass incarceration and punishment.
  • To create opportunities for those committed to criminal justice reform to meet, share resources, and engage with each other around common purposes.
  • To raise awareness and understanding, among citizens of Maryland, of mass incarceration and promote positive alternatives.

HOW WE WORK TOGETHER

Overview:  Each of us brings unique strengths and perspectives to this work.  Our work is enhanced by learning from each other, building on one another’s ideas, and sharing responsibility for the group’s success.

Leadership:  Leadership takes many forms within MAJR. Those who are in formal leadership roles are responsible for inspiring, supporting, listening, and leading in ways that allow others to participate at their best.   Leadership focuses on bringing out the best in each person rather than being “in charge.”

Decision Making:  Rather than a majority rule approach, we seek a sense of unity about the best way forward for our group.   Whenever possible, broad input should be sought for decisions that have broad impact.  Recognizing that some decisions need to be made quickly, it is important that we empower those most involved or impacted by the decision to proceed–with support of the Steering Committee.

Accountability: We bring integrity, good intention, and honesty to our work as we represent MAJR in various capacities.   As individuals, we recognize that we are accountable to others in the group to follow through in a timely way on the commitments we make.  Equally, when other commitments stand in the way of completing a task, we let others know that we need help.  Those of us who are also leaders within organizations partnering with MAJR may be called upon to carefully balance roles.  As we encounter those challenging situations, we will articulate our concerns and seek clarity and support from the group.

Conflict:  Conflict is inevitable in any group, especially one that is intentional about bringing together people with diverse experiences and backgrounds.   When handled well, conflict provides the opportunity for learning, new ideas, greater understanding and growth.

When differences in viewpoints arise, we will try to:

  • Affirm the good intentions of all involved
  • Create safe space for individual viewpoints to be heard and understood
  • Examine how we each might contribute to resolution of the situation
  • Speak frankly and with care if dynamics of power and privilege need to be addressed
  • Provide support for all involved

Communication:  We recognize that effective and timely communication is very important to our work.  At the same time, our structure makes it challenging to identify who needs to be copied on emails, involved in meetings or decisions, and informed with the latest news.  As we solidify our structure, we want to continue to clarify this and find ways to streamline communication flow.

Minutes from meetings will be prepared and distributed to those invited / attending the meeting.  (e.g., Committee meeting minutes go to everyone on the committee even if they can’t attend).  Ideally minutes will be prepared and distributed within a week of the meeting.   Minutes should include action items, the names of those in attendance, and at least a brief description of meeting/agenda.  A copy of the minutes should be sent to the [e.g., Steering Committee Chair].

Process Guidelines for Meetings

In our meetings we agree to:

  • Treat each other with respect;
  • Speak respectfully and honestly
  • Listen to understand
  • Allow one person to speak at a time (avoid side conversations)
  • Ensure equal participation (provide room for those who are quieter to contribute their perspectives)
  • Question constructively
  • Focus on ideas, not people
  • Stay positive and moving forward

DEFINING ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

Steering Committee:  

Provides overall vision and leadership for MAJR, provides strategic direction of our work toward the vision.  Maintains liaison with Honorary Chairs.  Advises and supports work of committees.   Includes Team Coordinators or their designee.  Meets monthly.

Function:  A cohesive set of  activities that help MAJR meet its goals.  Currently there are 3 major functions: [See following page]

  1. Legislative initiatives
  2. Networking and Education
  3. Communication

Team: Individuals who have expressed interest and commitment to work in a particular functional area; typically each person is committing for at least a year.

Committee: A group established by a team and delegated to conceptualize and manage an on-going set of tasks (e.g., lobby training); typically will include members from the team but may include additional people who want to be involved.

Working Group: A group of individuals who volunteer to accomplish an identified task that is exploratory or time-limited; the group dissolves after the task is completed or at the end of the year.

Pop Up Group:  A group that grows out of interest/energy of one or more people; focus may be learning, discussion, or activities; group may die as interest wanes, or grow into a more formal part of MAJR if appropriate.

Coordinator:

  • Holds the vision of the team and helps the group make progress toward its goals
  • Assures that communication flows to the Steering Committee
  • Supports team members and their work

Convener (may be the same person as the Coordinator):

  • Brings the group together (finding time and location/phone conference);
  • Pulls together agenda and handouts;
  • Facilitates the meeting with attention to good meeting process
  • Assures that minutes are taken and distributed to the team

Partner Organizations: Groups who have officially signed up (via website) to be part of MAJR.

The Alliance: Individuals and partnering organizations who have expressed interest in MAJR.   Receives regular correspondence (e.g., newsletters), legislative action alerts, and invited to quarterly meetings for learning and networking.

REIMBURSEMENT POLICY

Anyone incurring expenses doing the work of MAJR may be reimbursed.  The request should include receipts for purchases or a detailed statement of mileage.  Mileage will be reimbursed at 23 cents/mile.  Time is never reimbursed.  Any equipment, printing, travel, meals, or other expense over $100 must be approved in advance by the treasurer.  Expenses over $500 must be approved by the Executive Committee.  Reimbursement is available for travel to committee or work group meetings for members of those committees/groups.  It is not available for attending general MAJR membership meetings or public meetings unless the person does so on MAJR business.

Send reimbursement requests to reimburse@ma4jr.org